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7 Great Ways to Start A Safe Pregnancy Exercise Routine

7 Great Ways to Start A Safe Pregnancy Exercise Routine

Fitness & Wellness | April 21, 2021
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Even with a baby on the way, you too can stay fit with your very own safe pregnancy exercise routine. Mommies, let’s get physical!

I don’t know if you’ve observed it too, but there seems to be a baby boom in Manila amid the current pandemic. In fact, after trying for years, I finally found myself pregnant too during this extraordinary time!

While this can be a bit overwhelming at times, my husband and I are full of hope and excitement about our little one (LO) who’s coming really soon.

Pregnant woman looking up, smiling

I know everyone says that exercising during pregnancy is very important—after all, labor (not to mention childcare!) requires tremendous endurance. In fact, it may just be one of the most physically demanding activities in a woman’s lifetime. It can definitely be daunting to start a prenatal fitness regimen, most especially when one is a first-time mom or when one isn’t really used to working out, but don’t worry! We’re here to help.

7 Tips For Starting A Safe Pregnancy Exercise Routine

Over the years, my team and I at Onelife Studio have focused on personalized prenatal fitness programs. And so, together with our very own Coach Therry Dizon, we’ve put together these 7 tips for starting a safe pregnancy exercise routine:

Tip #1:  Always consult with your OB-Gyne and secure his or her clearance for exercise before engaging in any physical activity.

There are a lot of factors that increase the risk for miscarriage which only your attending doctor can truly determine for you. While pregnant, always err on the conservative side when approaching exercise. Also, do regular check-ins with your OB-Gyne to make sure you are keeping safe as you progress with your exercises.

Tip #2: Start gently and build up slowly.

Whether you’ve been pretty active in the past or whether you’ve never really regularly exercised, you must consciously start slow—especially when starting a prenatal exercise routine. That’s because your body is undergoing so many changes during this time. It is working on overdrive internally, too, so it’s important to build your endurance for exercise gently.

Pregnant woman with coach exercising

Start with a 10-minute routine daily, then slowly build up your time from there. A good goal is to work towards 150 minutes of exercise time weekly—that’s around 30 minutes of physical activity, 5 times each week.

Tip #3: Light to moderate intensity remains best.

To get the most benefit with the least amount of risk for your pregnancy, exercising consistently at a light to moderate intensity works best. This is why it’s important to monitor your heart rate while exercising to make sure you are always in a safe intensity zone. Light to moderate exercise is usually at around a heart rate of 120bpm and below—but this varies depending on your age, lifestyle, and preexisting conditions so it’s always best to again, consult with your OB.

And to keep track of your heart rate and other functions, smartwatches with monitoring functions are a good investment—especially for moms committed to exercising throughout their pregnancy.

Pregnant woman looking down, smiling

Tip #4: Stick to the basics.

While it may be tempting to try something new every time you exercise to keep things exciting, it’s best to stick to simple and functional exercises. I’m talking about the kind that strengthens your ability to carry out everyday tasks. After all, motherhood is going to be very demanding in the coming months, and exercising throughout pregnancy should help prepare you for this.

Pregnant woman looking down, sitting on exercise ball, smiling

Your exercise regimen should also consistently build on your cardiovascular endurance, core stabilization, hip, and glute strength, along with your arm, back, and chest strength.

Tip #5: Modify your exercises to progress along with your pregnancy.

Your body undergoes so many changes throughout your 9 months of pregnancy and this means that your exercises need to progress with your pregnancy as well.

  • First Trimester: If you are allowed to exercise in your first trimester, the goal should be to ease into the pregnancy. Breathing exercises and pelvic floor exercises (Kegels) are very important to start this early on. Energy levels are usually down during this time and it’s okay to take it easy—stick to light workouts like short walks, light arm and back work, and easy squats.
  • Second Trimester: During this time, your energy levels are back, which allows you to do more during your exercise sessions. However, because of your growing belly, you must avoid exercises that require lying down on your back—because this can impede the blood flow to your lower body and heart, which can be very dangerous for both you and your LO. And of course, you need to avoid lying down on your belly as well. Thus, it’s good to focus on building core stability through different functional movements (like marching in place rather than traditional core exercises like crunches), as well as focusing on building your back and arm strength through resistance exercises like rows, bicep curls, triceps extensions, and the like.
  • Third Trimester: At this point, you will be feeling quite heavy. You’ll also be loaded with the hormone “relaxin,” which means your joints and ligaments have increased mobility. This puts you at a greater risk for injuries. That’s why during this time, you should lessen any quick movements and further modify exercises to keep things simple. This is also a great time to train for labor by once again drawing focus on pelvic floor and breathing exercises.
Pregnant woman exercising, holding dumbbells, with coach guiding her

Tip #6: Pay attention to how your spine, abdomen, and groin feels with each exercise.

When you start to feel any pain, tightness or pulling sensation in these areas, it is better to stop. Err on the conservative and avoid exercises that cause discomfort.

Tip #7: Consider hiring a prenatal exercise specialist.

While it may seem costly to train with a specialist coach at first, the benefits of working with an experienced professional throughout your pregnancy fitness journey are priceless. Navigating changes brought about by pregnancy to your body (and to your life!) is challenging enough on your own and another ally-in-your-corner mama will definitely going to help you through your pregnancy journey.

Pregnant woman and coach smiling

There are so many benefits to staying active throughout your pregnancy—easier labor, better weight management, better energy and mood, and even better… improved heart and brain development for your baby.

So don’t be afraid to get moving, mommies! But always remember: safety first!

Photos by Anne Naig for Onelife Studio

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Tanya Maria Aguila is an entrepreneur and the co-founder of ONELIFE, a chain of boutique Pilates and Physical Therapy studios in Manila - the first of its kind. She is a multi-certified Pilates, Yoga, and movement professional. She was also one of the first NIKE Training Club coaches in the Philippines, and is currently a mentor-in-training for internationally renowned, Polestar Pilates. Tanya is a big champion of local businesses and brands and she strongly believes in two advocacies: self care, and women empowerment. As a coach, she believes in sustainable exercises and compassionate coaching, and that fitness is not measured in inches or pounds, but in the ability to continue to do the things you love, free from pain, for life.
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